Cape Cod Spring

It was a beautiful, warm spring day in Taunton. The sun was shining, the breeze was warm, the kind of day when you can believe that anything is possible.  I spent the morning running errands and generally puttering around but after lunch wanderlust kicked in. I’ve been working on a post about Cape Cod National Seashore, not to mention that there was a good possibility that there would still be whales around that might be seen from shore so it was easy to talk myself into an afternoon jaunt to the cape.

One of the nice things about Cape Cod this time of year is that everything is fresh and new. Trees are budding and folks are sprucing everything up to get ready for the summer season but the tourists haven’t arrived yet…at least not “en-mass”. There are a few vacationers but they are the exception so travel is easy. No traffic jams. It seemed like a good time to try to get pictures for that post.

It seemed like a good idea that is until I hit Bourne. I hadn’t even got to the bridges when the fog rolled in. Not little wispy fog but great , dense fog and over cast skies. I worked my way from scenic overlook to scenic overlook, debating all the way if I should turn around and save the gas or gamble that the fog was localized near the canal. Gambling won and it was a pretty good gamble.

By the time I reached the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham the sun was shining again. There were a few hikers around but the Visitor Center was quiet. The Ranger at the desk asked me if I needed help  as soon as I walked in to ask about the fog conditions around the cape and if any whales had been sighted  today. He said the tip of the cape, Provincetown, Race Point and part of Truro on the bay side were pretty much socked in by fog but the ocean side of the cape was still clear with just a haze filtering the sunlight. He said most of the whales were down around Race Point but that some had been seen near Head of the Meadow Beaches in Truro.

Always the optimist I set off to look for the whales again. This time I had a new camera lens and I hoped it would be enough to let me catch some shots from shore. I went to Nauset Light first as that was where I saw the whales the last time. Nothing today. I moved on down to Marconi Beach. Struck out again. By now the clouds were starting to gather and the breeze was turning into more of a wind.

I decided one last stop and if I struck out there I would take the long way home and sight see up 6A  to the Sagamore Bridge. I pulled down to Coast Guard Beach and there I hit pay dirt. As soon as I pulled in I could see multiple blows on the horizon. The wind was really starting to blow too so I pulled on a wind breaker, gathered my 500 mm lens and the monopod and stepped up to the fence to brace against the wind.

Through the camera I could see the whales quite clearly. They were very active. The sun was still shining but it wasn’t as intense as it had been and there was definitely a slight mist. The blue sky seemed to blend into the ocean making the horizon line a fuzzy blur. It was really different and I was happy to try to capture those unusual conditions. It made me think of a piece of art or a multi-hued tapestry as it seemed to have a texture all of its own.

It was almost more mesmerizing than whales as they were so far out as to be tiny specs and spots in the mist.

I tried for pictures again without much better luck. Better lens, worse weather conditions, can’t win. I was joined by a couple from New Hampshire who were trying to video tape the action. He was having trouble holding his little video camera steady in the now gale like winds. He tried a tripod but that was shaking too. I was having my own troubles holding my big lens steady on the monopod. I wouldn’t have had any luck if not for the fence.

Before too long we had quite a crowd lined up watching for spouts. With that many people watching I doubt if any sightings were missed. Over the sound of the wind you heard an almost continuous chorus of there’s one, and there’s another , oh there’s two and I see a tail, that’s a flipper and so on. I was there over 3 hours before finally packing it in just before 6pm. I was tempted to stay around to see if there would be enough of a break in the clouds for a nice sunset but thought better of it. It was getting quite cold and sunset was still over an hour away.

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I said good-bye to my fellow whale watchers and headed home. I was anxious to see if I had caught anything under these conditions. The result was disappointing, again, but the day was not! I will keep trying until the whales move on or I get that “money” shot.

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